The DWP Bolton and Bury Branch of PCS has over 600 members, based at the Bolton Universal Credit Service Centre and some of its connected local JobCentres at Bury, Prestwich, Bolton Great Moor Street and Bolton Blackhorse Street.

Here are some recent news articles and photos, featuring our Branch reps and members.

PCS circulated details of the end of the hated Ways Of Working to all affected members at the end of last week.

The total about-turn by UC management after the two days of Industrial Action shows that we can win. PCS full time officers will be coming to Bolton to gauge members feelings about acceptance of the revision and to take feedback about any issues that may still be there, due to the use of scheduling, even though all of the bad things WoW did have been reversed and there is an undertaking to never ever return to it.

PCS win massive improvements to working coinditions for members working on Universal Credit

   PCS win massive improvements to working coinditions for members working on Universal Credit

20.7.2015: Universal Credit dispute regarding Ways of Working:

Bolton and Bury PCS

From Bolton News, 5th June 2013:

PCS picket line
PCS picket line article

It's funny... almost. Someone came up to us when the newspaper photographer turned up and jokingly said "This is the bit it's all about." No offence, but that person just didn't get it. We wouldn't have minded being able go into work and doing our jobs, nice weather or not. But sometimes you have to stand up for yourselves and make your point. Otherwise, you just get trodden on. The majority aren't wrong.

2013 PCS Conference report, May 2013
: Compiled from reports by Ian Edmundson and Peter Entwistle

DWP Group Conference.

Monday’s DWP Group Conference had an unusually early start and late finish in order to get through as much business as possible in the reduced time that had been allowed. There was certainly no less business to discuss than in previous years. The DWP Group Conference mainly dealt with the motions we had been mandated upon regarding pay and terms and conditions and, despite the fact that there were issues that afftected us, which needed to be spoken about, Reps were very disciplined when it came to actually putting their hands up and instead, Conference worked in a very disciplined manner on getting through the business, compared to previous years where Reps would spend too much time posturing and waffling and scoring political points. Jane and Ian in the main voted on the motions on behalf of the Branch.

A couple of decent motions disappointingly fell as the proposing Branches were not represented at Conference, presumably due to the fact that annual leave had to be taken to attend.

It was utterly embarrassing to watch various factions in charge pointedly ignoring the raised right arm of others who weren't, which appeared to be in the air and ignored for most of the duration of the DWP Group Conference. When they couldn’t really for shame ignore them any longer, as hers was the only arm raised and Jane finally did get up to speak, she put a very convincing set of reasons forward as to why the GEC President and her pals were not exactly doing the members proud in return for their votes and how she had actually managed to lose all of the Reps in two other Unions paid time off for their Union Conferences. Ooops.

Peter and Ian went for a rather nice curry and then a couple of drinks in the evening.

Tuesday am.
DWP Group Conference.

At the Group Conference in the morning, Jane and Ian voted on the motions. Peter was sat in the Observers gallery. This year they only opened the rear balcony for general observers (and the right hand balcony for trainee delegates during National Conference, which commenced in the afternoon). A generous hark back to guillotined motions for a change and a lot of business was done.

As was the case, the day before, there were no real surprises when it came to the motions that were carried. The motion outcomes were very predictable and everyone got on with the business of dealing with the business at hand and voted in a united way to resist our employer’s attacks.

Tuesday pm / Wednesday.
DWP National Conference.

You can tell where the big money goes, when it comes to the spectacle that is PCS National Conference. We suddenly had huge video screens switched on to catch a close-up of every scratch of Janice Godrich’s nose and the sound was suddenly a lot better and there were signing interpreters and Martyn Jenkins was running amok putting potential speakers (and people who may have wanted to venture into the aisles) off from doing so by running around with his camera.

The real meat of the first session of National Conference was motion A510, regarding our National Campaign over pay and conditions. Mark Serwotka made a stirring speech regarding our intractable employer during the presentation of the 2012 PCS Annual Report. A possible (and very likely to happen) merger with UNITE was discussed and debated at length, though Mark was quite guarded in his language, saying nothing was signed yet and nothing was agreed. Watch this space.

The subject of a levy was raised as a way of fund-raising. A bit useless in the current financial climate and it’s also practically impossible now for Reps to go round offices collecting funds for Industrial action.

When the National Campaign motions were heard and the subject of moving forward and working closer with UNITE was debated, delegates called for card votes, as no one on the floor seemed to trust Janice’s counting of hands. From the Observer gallery, where Jane and I were sat, she looked to be dead on and they ayes seemed to have it, but there you go. The motions were carried, but let’s see the actual number of member votes cast and who wasn’t in the hall when they closed the doors. Peter fortunately had control of our card vote, as he was our only delegate present for most of National Conference.

Motions on the hated ‘Must Improve’ markings, which are nothing more than a shameful way of slashing the pay bill by lying about our staff’s ability to do their job, were also naturally carried overwhelmingly.

Peter and Ian went for a rather nice curry and then a couple of drinks in the evening.

The Facility Time debate was full of bold phrases like “they can take away our facility time, but we will just work smarter”. We wish people wouldn’t say things like that. We should be making a case to keep as much time as we can, instead of saying ‘do what you like to us’.

Ian got the train home, as previously arranged, at lunchtime on Wednesday, so missed the very end sessions of the National Conference,

Overall, this year’s PCS Conference was different from previous years in that Reps really stuck to dealing with the business at hand and overall, little factional behaviour could be detected in the hall.

Our Conference delegation did not all meet together at any point, as we stayed in different accomodation and we could have been a little bit more organised before we went down about exchanging our phone numbers. There is certainly a lesson to be learned.

Please note that all of the Branch Reps who attended PCS Conference in 2013 did so using their own annual leave.

* Attending Reps were repeatedly asked to contribute insight to this feature article.
Only Peter and Ian submitted articles, which have been edited together to comprise the above article.

Read more information about PCS conference 2013 here.

From Bolton News, 5th April 2013: Civil servants across Bolton go on strike

PCS members Bolton DWP

CIVIL servants in courts, Jobcentres and government buildings across Bolton have walked out on strike.

Members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union downed tools at 1pm as part of a national campaign of industrial action in protest over cuts to pay, jobs and pensions.

The Department for Work and Pensions’ disability assessment centre at Elizabeth House in Back Spring Gardens, Bolton and Farnworth Jobcentres, the driving test centre in Weston Street, and both Bolton Crown Court and Bolton Magistrates Court were affected by the strikes.

Up to 250,000 union members were set to join the walkouts nationally before heading to public rallies, with major protests taking place in both Liverpool and Manchester. The PCS wants a five per cent pay rise, or £1,200, for members, but claims the government is refusing to negotiate.

Michael Hepworth, a PCS representative at Elizabeth House, estimated that around 350 people in his building had taken part. He said: “It’s to make a point to the government. I don’t think it will change anything. We’ve just had a reduction in our pensions and we haven’t had a pay rise for three years. In real terms our pay has gone down by 20 per cent.”

Union member Ian Foster said: “I was making more in the private sector 15 years ago than I do here. I wanted to work for the public sector for its job security, but that has gone. Jobs shouldn’t be an aspiration, they’re a right.”

A cabinet office spokesman called the action “disappointing”.

Original article here

VOTE: Civil servants strike over redundancy pay cut plan
Bolton News. Tuesday 9th March 2010

Geraldine Cole and Picket line outside Bolton DWP office.

BENEFIT OFFICE: Geraldine Cole, branch secretary of the PCS union, on the picket
line at Elizabeth House in Bolton town centre

THE picket lines were manned by striking civil servants as they began two days of action in Bolton in protest at plans to cut redundancy pay. Up to 1,000 workers walked out yesterday as part of the action, which is being coordinated by the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union.

About 50,000 government employees in the North West were taking part in the strike and lunchtime rallies were held in Manchester, Liverpool and Preston. The row is over proposals to cut redundancy payments for civil servants by up to a third and the action affects law courts, job centres, benefit offices and tax centres.

Dozens of PCS members across the region were also travelling to Westminster to lobby MPs on the changes.

Geraldine Cole, Bolton and Bury branch secretary, who was leading the protest outside Elizabeth House, Bolton’s benefit centre off Le Mans Crescent, said the strike was a “last resort”. She added: “If we don’t stand up to this, it is going to make departments easier to privatise. We think about 15 per cent of staff have gone in to work, but there are about 450 members here on the picket line. Those who have gone in are non-union members.”

Pete Sanger, assistant secretary for Greater Manchester Revenue and Customs’ Bury and Rochdale branch, and Caroline Reid, branch organiser, were leading the strike action outside the tax office in Churchgate.

Mr Sanger said: “It is not just the compensation scheme, which is being reduced by about 60 per cent. The next thing will be an attack on pensions.

“We haven’t seen many members of the union going in, so there seems to be quite a lot of support.”

The walkout is the most serious action taken by the PCS since 1987 and further disruption is planned in the run-up to the General Election. Officials warned that driving tests would be cancelled, court cases delayed and queues would build up at ports and airports.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said the union’s membership had grown since it had announced the strikes last month. He added: “The strike will show how vital these people are to the running of our society. Those on strike deliver services that touch our everyday lives, from the cradle to the grave.”

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